Megha Sharma has a strong sense that her work and life are in balance these days. Stress is not getting the best of her.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Just a couple of years ago, shortly after she relocated to Sarnia, she was stressed and struggling. Counselling helped but it was only part of the solution.
The rest of the answer came from The Art of Living Foundation, a global volunteer movement started in 1981 by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Sri Sri Ravi Shankar that addresses stress management and promotes community service.
There are Art of Living chapters in more than 156 countries and Sarnia had an established group beginning in 2007. By the time Sharma moved here and discovered she needed help for stress management, the Sarnia chapter was all but dormant.
“I got involved and it started growing,” she said. Currently there are about 40 local members.
Many meet at the YMCA weekly to learn meditation from Sharma. Once she began reading about meditation’s ability to improve the immune system, increase energy levels, manage stress and gain greater emotional stability, Sharma took seven meditation courses in two years and became Sarnia’s volunteer meditation instructor.
It costs $10 for a class from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturdays in the day-care room at the Y. No need to register. Just show up with a yoga mat. YMCA members get in free.
“In our world today, we’re constantly pulled in multiple directions. So much is being required of us, so how do you find the balance and maintain a sense of peace, of calm, your sanity really?” Sharma asks.
“We pay so much attention to the health of our bodies but hardly any attention is paid to our mental health,” she said. “Meditation can really help with the wellbeing of both the body and the mind.”
Sharma describes it as the skillful art of doing nothing. And that’s not something many people find easy, she said.
Beyond her weekly meditation classes, the Art of Living chapter focuses on doing good deeds in the community. They’ve been known to hold tree planting drives and Sharma will soon hold meditation classes at the Women’s Interval Home.
On Aug. 20, the chapter is hosting a yogathon in Canatara Park in conjunction with 50 other Canadian cities.
The goal is to get as many as 200 people doing 108 sun salutations. Breaks are encouraged.
Sharma has taken part in London’s Art of Living yogathon the past few years and says the event is a lot of fun and raises money to send underprivileged children to school in developing countries.
“Of course, it’s low stress. Anyone can do it,” she said.
Pledge forms are available by calling her at 780-607-5316 or visiting the Art of Living website. Registration costs $25.